For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 7, 2013
Statement by Bob Schwiderski of SNAP (952 471 3422, firstname.lastname@example.org)
“There is no record of anyone contacting police. (Archbishop Harry) Flynn allowed (Fr. Jonathan) Shelley to return to ministry.” Those two damning sentences are from the latest disturbing Minnesota Public Radio report outlining the secretive, irresponsible and likely illegal way Twin Cities Catholic officials hid thousands of pornographic pictures on Fr. Jonathan Shelley’s computer.
Fr. Shelley’s computers should have been given to law enforcement at the first hint of sexual impropriety. But MPR reports that in 2004 “a private investigator that found that many of the depictions" on Fr. Shelley’s computer “could be considered borderline illegal, because of the youthful-looking male image.” That too should have prompted Catholic officials to give the computers to police.
But church officials again kept near-certain crimes secret. The computers were destroyed. And now, Fr. Shelley continues to walk free, a decade later.
According to MPR, in a memo, dated Jan. 27, 2013, Fr. Kevin McDonough, who headed the Church's child-safety program, told (Archbishop) Nienstedt that at least four of the images were "’quite likely of minors.’”
What arrogance to assume that because you know church theology and music and history you’re somehow an unbiased authority on child pornography.
Our duty as citizens is to call the police when we suspect crimes may have happened. It’s not to hide evidence, split hairs, parse words, and write secret memos and letters to colleagues if we suspect crimes may have happened.
The fact that” the archdiocese declined to make (Archbishop Harry) Flynn, (Archbishop John) Nienstedt and (Fr. Kevin) McDonough available for interviews speaks volumes about how desperate they are to avoid facing tough questions about their inexcusable actions.
The Twin Cities archdiocesan hierarchy seems rotten to the core, and determined to ignore secular laws and handle possible crimes “in house.” Now more than ever, it’s critical that law enforcement step up, along with every current and former Catholic employee who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sexual misdeeds, crimes or cover ups.